How long has it been since I've covered a Fire Emblem game in one of these things? Depending on who you ask, it could range from "nearly one and a half years" to "I don't think that counts". Anyway, looking at those two reviews, you'd probably guess that I find Fire Emblem: Awakening to be an awesome goddamn game. And you'd be right, if a little mundane in your guessing. For something a little more informative, I'd say this game hedges closer toward Tear Ring Saga than it does Path of Radiance.
Part of that is because the quality of the story (or at least the plot) leans more toward the former's "I can't remember the middle half of the story" than the latter's tightly crafted greatness. It all begins at the near end of the game, where one protagonist kills another. That massive amount of foreshadowing out of the way, we then cut to the usual Fire Emblem affair: slitting brigand throats for a little while before slowly moving onto a greater, world-threatening conspiracy. And in this case, I do mean "slowly"...sort of. Looking back on it, the time it took for the plot to develop wasn't terribly long (only eight chapters out of twelve billion), but it certainly feels like it takes a long time. Not a whole lot of major things happen in those early chapters, and those that do are either forgotten or constantly feel like they're building up to something.
And that building up aspect legitimately takes forever to change. There are a lot of cool moments in the narrative, but somehow, they don't feel connected very strongly. For example, after Chrom (he's the one who was getting killed earlier) topples one of the major villains early in the story, he waits around a year before deciding to go on another (oddly similar) adventure on a completely different continent. This leads to some cool places and events (like fighting a Spanish mustache), but it seems an abrupt transition that could've been worked in a bit better. Maybe make said continent a known entity from the beginning and allude to its political situation over the course of the main plot so that it doesn't come out of nowhere. But that's really just a band-aid wouldn't work for the much larger problem of events happening in isolation rather than as part of some cohesive whole. You gotta have something to tie everything together, Fire Emblem?
What's that? You do? Oh, right, the themes. How could I forget about them?....I'm coming across as a facetious asshole, aren't I? Rest assured that I actually really love what the game is doing thematically. I might as well start with the more traditional reason of "it really fucking thinks things through". The theme of this game is "you can fight fate (within limits)", and anybody with passing knowledge of this game can tell you just how pervasive that message is. A lot of the more significant moments in the plot make this point the focus and, more importantly, do so in a thought out, effective manner. This is most evident those few times when you're presented with a huge choice out of absolutely nowhere. All of them involve somebody dying; that should give you an idea as to how weighty and urgent these choices are. But, as far as I can remember, I don't think any of them affect the plot. Emmeryn's still gonna die, and your avatar buddy is still gonna survive to kill Chrom. Remember: there are limits as to how well you can fight your fate.
But what about the less mundane reason I alluded to previously? For the curious among you, that would be the theme's ability to act as a makeshift adhesive for the plot to make sense. Remember that "jump across continents to fight bad guys" plot point from before, and how ill-suited it seemed for the rest of the story? Well, in lieu of these themes, it works a lot better: if the characters are reliving what are essentially the same events, then it stands to reason that they're better prepared to handle them and fight back against their "inevitable" fates. Hell, it even justifies some of the less plausible plot twists the game throws at you later in the game.
But Awakening's real strengths lie in its myriad of distinctive, fleshed out characters. How have I gone this long without mentioning the characters? There are just so many of the fuckers to mention. Just to name a few, we have Owain the walking Fire Emblem encyclopedia, Frederick, who would stab a beggar asking for change because said beggar was probably packing heat, maybe, and Panne, who, despite being the last of her race of magical bunny people, somehow doesn't go all Last of the Mohicans on us. (Although I think part of that is because a man in this universe would risk getting a Falchion through the gut if he dressed up as a bear.) I could go on, and the amazing thing is that I don't think I'd run into a character I'd find lacking in detail. Maybe hard to like, yes, but never under-developed or weak in character. Hell, even the character you create, the one who should have a generic identity so as to match any possible player, has a clearly defined character to him.The only exceptions I can remember were, sadly, the villains, whose motivations and characterizations can best be summed up like so.
This may be because the villains don't have a support conversation to their name? Oh, did I not tell you about support conversations? I probably should, since I've gone 1000 words without even vaguely referencing a gameplay concept. They're just conversations between two characters who have spent a lot of time standing next to each other. I've already addressed the character aspect (it's really, really good), but it also opens up a lot of gameplay avenues for the game. First up, it's the reason I reset the game whenever one of my characters died. I've gotten to know their personalities, watched them grow, even helped them find love! You're asking me to throw that all out? Bullshit! I'm making sure all my soldiers survive so they can tell their children of my greatness! Oh, that reminds me: you can make characters fuck in this game. It has some cool story benefits, but really, it only exists to let you create horrible super-powered monster children. I had a bunny person go into battle with an insta-kill death move, and he was supported by a vampire dragon girl. What more need I say?
Maybe something about the basic gameplay mechanics. Allow me to correct that: you have a map, populated with a bunch of guys you control in battle against another bunch of guys to kill. For most of the maps, your goal is simply to kill every last one of them, but there are enough of them with different goals to keep the game from being too repetitive. This is especially true of the puzzle-like Paralogues, little side chapters that require Chrom and his Shepherds (did I mention that they call themselves that for some of the plot?) ignore this whole rebellion thing so they can jump halfway across the world for some assorted pastries, I assume. Anyway, you take a turn fighting guys, they take a turn fighting guys, and this goes on until you've met the victory conditions or they kill your leader.
Now that's a lot of words for something that's actually very simple to pick up. Now there are some other mechanics and nuances that I haven't elaborated upon, like the various weapons or the cost/benefit analysis of letting characters fight together or all the branching class promotions, but the core gameplay that I have described is pretty damn easy to pick up. The game's not hiding anything from you; everything you need to know is laid out before you in the first hours of the game. Thus the game is made very approachable and easy to pick up, and the difficulty, well, less difficult to deal with.
Because have I mentioned how balls hard the game is, at least if you play it on Hard like I did? (Those empty maps at the beginning felt like taunts.) If you leave even one insignificant opening in your placements, the enemy will home in on it and mercilessly eviscerate you. And at least at first, you can't grind your way out of it; the only reliable way to get more enemies on the map is by using a Reeking Box, which initially eat up 90% of your war funds. And even later, when you can grind more reliably, strength can only get you so far. Ah, but therein lies the beauty of Awakening's difficulty: its legitimate nature. It's like the exact opposite of Tear Ring Saga: everybody has excellent growths, but you're still going to get your ass kicked more than an amateur foot fetishist. It's gonna take some actual thinking and adaptation to get through these chapters, and out-maneuvering and out-thinking the enemy feels like a real accomplishment because of it. It's not entirely perfect, as the random number generator can attest to on multiple occasions, but as these issues don't come up too often, they're minor problems within a very well crafted system.
Speaking of well crafted, the graphics......OK, I think you understand what my opinion of Fire Emblem: Awakening is by now. If you don't, let me re-iterate: it's a highly refined, well thought out game flexible enough to adapt to your play style while rewarding carefully, intelligent gameplay. Sure, the plot's lacking in cohesion, but the characters are more than willing to pick up the slack. And the graphics looks really, really good, if you're still curious about that.
- On the one hand, the actual events in the game could be better connected.
- On the other hand, the characters are strong enough that I shouldn't really give a shit.
- Screw it; let's go with that timeless Fire Emblem gameplay taken from Thracia 776!
- Let's just hope that I got to use this link at some point in the blog, somehow.
Dr. Robotnik simply does not give a fuck.
Yes, I played this game just for the inflammatory title it would grant me. I am just that petty, much like the game itself. Its only goal was to see how many crass toilet puns it could cram into a single Hu Card. The difference between this game and my blog, though, is that the latter has substance (no matter how much you will undoubtedly vehemently deny in the comments).
Whereas Toilet Kids is obsessed with one thing: cheap poo jokes. Hell, it doesn't even care about the premise to get there. Some kid gets launched up via a rush of toilet water, and now he's shooting people, for some reason. Also, underpants god. And it's not like the jokes are there to pick up the slack. Toilet Kids can only do so much with poo jokes before they stop making sense altogether. Why are those ancient Egyptians holding poo? And why does this whale have shit eyes? Am I missing some cultural in-jokes or language puns or something? Because it feels more like fecal matter was sprayed on everything in sight in the hopes that it would end up funny. That's not how jokes work, guys. Poop isn't intrinsically funny; you have to do something with it to make it funny. Preferably, something that makes sense. Hell, you even get urine-farting skunks (and urine-farting other things) and poo-flinging toilets. The only people who will find this funny are ten year old boys, and that's just because they don't know how penises work yet.
But there's more to Toilet Kids than mere toilet humor. Not a lot more, and it still isn't very good, but definitely more. You shoot enemies, and....that's it, really. There are power-ups to fuck around with, but as far as I could tell, you only get them in the last level, which makes you question why you'd bother including them. But hey, you don't need power-ups for a good shooter as long as the level design's decent, right? If that excuse didn't work for the poo jokes, I don't see it working too well for the level design. Most of the enemies come in predictable waves of three or five or some different form of five, and even then, I'm making it sound more complicated than it actually is. You see those flying baby dicks, for instances? That's the only formation they appear in, as far as I can remember. While this doesn't make the enemies easy to deal with, it certainly nudges the game toward repetition and simplicity, which isn't doing this game any favors.
Granted, that's only four levels of simple repetition, but four levels of crap is still crap. Now normally, I'd consider ending the blog after the crap pun quota has been met, but I want to say at least one positive thing about the game: bombing things works well. The reticle will lock onto targets in the near vicinity of where you're aiming, so 100% precision isn't necessary. Makes managing two levels of shooting rather easy. That good enough? OK, now I'm ending the blog.
- This game thinks girls pee out of their butts.
- It also thinks it can get away with having no power-ups and the same enemy formations repeated too many times for comfort.